To keep up on the most recent developments in the resume industry, I occasionally read new resume manuals. And frequently, I learn something new from these publications. Yesterday, however, I read a publication about resumes for 2016 that stopped me dead in my tracks. Related: Will That Employer WANT To Read Your Resume? The book’s author devoted a full chapter to the need to write an Objective statement on your resume. An Objective statement. Are you kidding me? The gist of what this author had to say was that unless your resume has a strong Objective statement, the prospective employer won’t know what job you’re looking for. I must say that I stopped reading the book as soon as I saw that chapter, I was so appalled. Objective statements have gone the way of buggy whips and high-button shoes. Don’t get me wrong; there are as many individual views on what constitutes a good resume as there are resume writers. But I have yet to encounter any other certified professional resume creator who preaches the gospel of Objective statements. “What’s the problem?” you say. The answer is simple: An Objective tells the employer what you want. But the employer couldn’t care less what you want. The employer wants to know how well you’re going to give him/her what s/he wants. Just imagine, if you will, that you are invited to a friend or relative’s house for dinner. Before your host or hostess has a chance to let you know what’s on the menu, you pipe up, “I want roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots and string beans, and, oh yes, some Neapolitan ice cream for dessert.” Even if the friend or relative had planned something similar for dinner, do you think s/he is going to feel very kindly toward you for that breach of etiquette? If you do that to an employer, s/he will probably feel more than a little annoyed with you. In fact, adding an Objective can cost you more than just someone’s wounded feelings. Telling the employer what you want instead of advising him/her what you’re offering the company could cost you the interview. The proper way to announce yourself is to begin your resume proper with the job title the employer is hoping to fill, followed by a brief statement introducing yourself and showing (not telling) why you are the best candidate for the position, based on your accomplishments. If you need an example, here is one I wrote for a job seeker recently: Project Efficiency Manager: Developed most effective, time-saving methods to achieve desired results by facilitating all aspects of selected business practices. Achieved 100% success rate in winning awards for law firm clients by rewording demand letters for greater impact. Cut labor and delivery times by developing mutually beneficial working relationships with suppliers and vendors. That statement tells the employer who the job seeker is and what s/he has accomplished in the past; it’s also a commitment to achieving similar results for the prospective employer. There is nothing about what that job seeker wants; it’s all about what that job seeker will deliver. And it will arouse much more interest on the employer’s part than any “I want” objective. It’s a new world out there, friends, one where your resume needs to show what you can deliver. So kick that objective to the curb and look for what the employer wants. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
This week a recent college graduate sent me her resume, along with this question: “How can I update my objective statement to fit this specific job?” While I appreciated her recognizing the need to customize her resume for each specific application, the best way to update a resume's objective statement is to delete it altogether. Even if you’re looking for entry-level work, the very fact you’re applying for a particular job indicates your objective is to acquire that job. Using your cover letter to explain why you desire this specific job will generally help your case, but adding an objective statement saying you want the job only wastes space on your resume. Worse still, many hiring managers say one of their pet peeves is receiving resumes with objective statements that have nothing to do with the position for which they’re hiring! For instance, someone submitting a resume for an educational nonprofit that says their objective is to be an optometrist. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, your experience will generally make logical sense in connection to the jobs for which you apply. If you’re changing careers or looking for entry-level work, the content of your resume may be less directly relevant. Resist the temptation to tell the employer what you want. Instead, use that valuable space to summarize what you bring to the table as a candidate. Not only is this a much more effective strategy for getting your resume into the coveted interview stack, but it makes the application process much easier for you as a job seeker. Objective statements get people into trouble whenever they don’t match a job description exactly—which requires the job seeker to tweak his or her objective each time they submit a resume. On the other hand, a summary statement capturing your essence as a candidate is something you can carry from resume to resume—as well as onto other media such as your LinkedIn profile or professional blog. As you may have guessed, my response to the recent college grad was to lose her objective statement and simply sell her relevant skills. This strategy is effective no matter how long you’ve been in the workforce!